Okay so meal planning can be a bit daunting, but once you get the hang of it and figure out a grove it is actually quite easy. You will end up saving time and money. The biggest takeaway here is-KEEP IT SIMPLE! Simple doesn’t have to mean boring, its just easier to have 10-15 meals that you just rotate. I have mine listed below and tell you what I do when we want to change it up a bit.
Step 1-Plan ahead. I plan out the week starting on Thursdays as I grocery shop Friday so our meal planning is Friday to Friday. On this day my husband and I chat to see if there is anything specific we want to eat, if not I just plan out all the meals. Typically we eat paleo(ish) most days of the week with extra sides for the girls so that keeps it pretty simple for us. Lunches are usually salads, tuna/turkey wraps or leftovers. I don’t really plan breakfast ahead except for on weekends as I usually eat later than my husband as I do intermittent fasting.
Step 2-Write it out: Simple enough but as I plan our meals I write the list in conjunction with the meals. I even write my list in order of how I go through the store to make it easier for myself to not have to back track or accidentally miss something.
Step 3-Plan one meal that can be used for 2-3 meals. I am not into meal prep as I just do not have the time to set aside to actually do all that work at one time. However, every Monday I make chicken and some variation of vegetables that I use again for another meal and use the cooked chicken in salads for lunches through out the week. I change up the way I prepare the chicken and veggies but its pretty consistent and an integral part of my meal planning.
Step 4-Go grocery shopping and stick to your list! Easier said than done at first. However, meal planning is all about planning and not just haphazardly shopping.
Typical Family Menu
Monday-Chicken and veggies
Tuesday-Tacos (grilled fish or ground turkey taco salad)
Wednesday-Bowls (Cava or Chipotle type bowls using leftover chicken and veggies from Monday)
Thursday-Fish and veggies with rice or sweet potato added for the girls
Friday-Chopped Salad, Stir Fry or another slightly more intensive meal
Saturday-Pasta with shredded beef ragu
Sunday-Grilled flank steak wtih grilled veggies and potatoes
Our go to Meals:
- Chicken and veggies (in the summer I grill and in the winter I bake this meal, I changed up the veggies week to week but its a weekly staple in our house)
- Bowls-I alternate Mexican and Mediterranean bowls (think Chipotle and Cava)
- Taco Salad with ground turkey
- Stir fry with either chicken or shrimp
- Store bought rotisere chicken with a side salad and veggies and/or rice.
- Roasted sausage, sweet potato, broccoli and red onion (or any vegetables you wish, one pan!)
- Salad with lots of veggies and a protein, my goal is to have as many colors in the rainbow as possible in a salad.
- Salmon with a vegetable and rice and sometimes curry sauce for the adults
- Cauliflower fried “rice” with a protein
- Mahi Mahi-Baked with almond meal crust and sauteed spinach or fish tacos. I alternate between salmon and mahi mahi every week and just change up how I prepare it.
- Meat sauce or meat balls with Zucchini noodles and rice pasta for the girls. Sometimes I will make homemade sauce from scratch and I will make a few batches so I freeze a couple for future meals.
- Flank steak with a vegetable and potato or bread, this is often a weekend treat meal but I use the leftover meat for breakfast or make a steak salad.
- Chicken teriyaki, broccoli and rice (this is one of my oldest favorite meals and she calls it chicken sauce)
- Frozen or take out pizza with a bagged Caesar salad (Yes, take out or a frozen meal can still be meal planning!)
- Roasted pork tenderloin with butternut squash, cranberries and sometimes I will add another vegetable, fall favorite.
Tips and Takeaways:
- Don’t be afraid to add take out or go out as one of your meals
- We do one “treat” meal a week that is not listed on here because it changes every week usually for our date night.
- Take this chance to go through your fridge, discard any old items and survey low condiments or items that didn’t get eaten and you over bought
- I did baby led weaning with both my girls so meals are 80-90% us eating the same thing with added stuff for them as needed. I will posting about this soon!
- When you feel in a rut with meals, Pinterest is my best friend. I will ask my husband what he wants, or to think of a family favorite that we eat out and search on how to make it.
- Don’t over think it! Start simple and build upon that.
- Involved others in your house, sometimes I am surprised at the ideas my husband and daughter have when I am not able to come up with anything else.